A report of the panel discussion at the meeting of WAC-UNA on 9.12.16.
Dan Wheatley (Adjunct Lecturer in Sociology at Arcadia and Syracuse Universities, also with the Baha'i Office of Public Affairs), addressed issues he met when talking with people interested in academic studies about multiculturalism and human rights. He emphasised that both men and women must contribute to keeping a good gender balance and many males are not misogynists.
The women Dan met (mostly students) are suffering increasing voyeurism and harassment, even women MPs face abuse – as with Jo Cox’s death.
Leading great women activists of the past are not mentioned – e.g. feminist Germaine Greer.
The practice of "safe spaces" which began with the practice of withdrawing platforms for free speech but judged to be racist, sexist or homophobic, and yet it is notable that this practice has extended to attempts to suppress or control the views of feminist, secularist and gay rights activists. There is an extension of this polarisation in thought and speech which seems to have extended to social media on the internet and this appears to have contributed to further retreat into mutually distrusting "silos" of thinking, and also perhaps to the failure of polling organisations to correctly foresee the outcomes of several major political decisions. Rather than dialogue, there is a division into “good us, and bad, foolish others”
The internet is not helping us, can mislead us so we do not know the true trends in thinking. For example media streams gave unwarranted confidence in results expected in Scottish referendum.
Refuges for women need most help after football matches when visits to pubs result in violence against women. So much so that the beer Stella Atois has a colloquial name “wife beater”.
There appears to be a deterioration in the general state of our national affairs.
Susan Moller Okin questioned “Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women?” Some bad ideas are spread. FGM in UK has not had successful prosecutions. Among the surgeries to beautify women we now have labiaplasty. There are the problems accepting minority communities, homosexuality, LGBT, or GLBT and racial distrust.
Rashida Manjoo (Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women up to 2015) said that the UK is among the worst regarding in your face sexism of anywhere in the world. Her observations were attacked.
We need people to come together to talk over difficult issues – collaboration, knowledge sharing, education, lobbying etc. There is room for action to have resources for these issues, implementation of SCR 1325, educating or training people in these issues – after all it was ordinary floor managers who let Jimmy Savile have room keys. Our primary identity is as a human being. We want to hand on a better world to the next generation.